Prescription Opioids

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OpiatesOpioids are a class of drugs that include strong pain relievers available by prescription. Some of these opioids are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo, Palladone), codeine, fentanyl, morphine and many others. Opioids are considered safe when taken as directed by a doctor and for a short amount of time. However, even regular use prescribed by a doctor may produce dependence.

The misuse of opiates can be hazardous inside and outside of the workplace due to the effects of the drug. Opiates may cause insensitivity to pain, drowsiness, euphoria, confusion, sedation, nausea, vomiting, constipation, itchiness, watery eyes, running nose, weight loss, slow and shallow breathing, and even death. Withdrawal symptoms from overuse include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and leg movements. Unfortunately, prescription opiates are easily and often misused. This is a result of the drug producing feelings of euphoria as well as pain relief. Misuse occurs when the drug is being taken in a different way than it is intended, taken in a greater quantity than what is prescribed by a doctor, or when taken without a prescription authorized by a doctor. People abusing prescription opioids are also turning to heroin as an alternative as it may be cheaper and more accessible.

Opioid addiction and misuse is a significant problem in the United States. Anyone can misuse or abuse a prescription for opioids. AMC offers multiple drug screening panels to cover opiates. A urine drug screen can detect opiates going back 1-3 days and up to 90 days in a hair follicle test. AMC also offers drug screening programs as a way to ensure the safest workplace possible.

National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.